The Hoxton Hotel (‘the urban lodge’) in London recently had a sale, where a lucky few could purchase rooms for £1 a night or £29 a night. Most came away with nothing, but Sam was lucky enough to not only get a room, but two consecutive nights on the weekend of her birthday! Fantastic!
Said weekend started last Friday, we each took the day off and took our quick and usual route into the centre; meeting outside Leicester Square, cases in tow, ready to be tourists for a couple of days. After apple juice and lunch in St James’ park we took the Northern Line to Old Street and checked in, electrified by the overwhelming trendiness that is both the hotel and surrounding area.
Note the scissor, paper, stone pillows. With pre-booked tickets for Avenue Q at the 5:30pm matinée it wasn’t long before we were back on the streets, exploring Hoxton and Shoreditch and grabbing a Tortilla (potato quiche) and roasted veggies from the excellent and delicious Food Hall on Old Street. We LOVE this place and would spend a fortune here if left unaccompanied.
Middle of the middle in the stalls we watched the well praised Avenue Q as the Gary Coleman references whisked over our heads and the ‘grab your dick and double click’ line resounded. Though we enjoyed it, the abundant acclaim meant it did not meet our high expectations. Away from the Noël Coward theatre and back to Hoxton Square where we had reserved a table at The Apprentice, as recommended by a friend. A little unnerved at the emptiness of the place we perused the night menu’s offerings, opting for the spicy leek and carrot soup of the day starter and the “Osso Bucco with risotto Millanise and gremolata sauce” as main, with Sam choosing the Salmon and spinach dish. Osso Bucco is a dish of tasty veal shanks and it was pure bliss — I didn’t need my knife to cut the meat, it simply fell apart, all juicy and scrumptious — it was perfect.
On Saturday we considered rushing to Leicester square to grab theatre tickets early in the morning; but rising late at 10am we quickly abandoned this notion, instead just following our noses. Up ‘n’ down Brick Lane, past Les Trois Garcons — too eccentric for Sam’s tastes, to the Food Hall for caramelized garlic bread, cheese, spinach tortilla and anchovy cauliflowers, respectively devoured by the canal off Upper Street near Angel.
Darting back in via tube we saw the sites; Trafalgar square, Buckingham palace, Hyde Park and all that. After a tea/cappuccino recuperation stop spent watching the passing horses and cyclists in Hyde Park we tried to find an evening event. All the movies at the BFI film festival were sold out, as were any shows we’d planned to see — judging by the boards in the square. Music events were the next option but of course the weekend doesn’t have free papers to look these up! Going out on a limb, we headed to the Apollo Theatre looking for tickets to Rain Man starring Josh Hartnett and Adam Godley; luck would have it they still had some and for £31 each we grabbed upper circle seats for the 7:30pm showing. With two hours to spare we had a set menu Chinese dinner at Mr Kong’s in Chinatown — the usual duck pancakes, sesame bread, seaweed et al.
Neither of us had seen the Dustin Hoffman movie, we went in without any expectations and without grounds for comparison. We left absolutely stunned — wow; the play was brilliant with Godley and Hartnett supremely leaving us on tender hooks. This was the first straight up play we’d seen together and no doubt we’ll be back for more of the same.
Sunday took us to the areas of London we wouldn’t normally go, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and later South Kensington for lunch and the museums. We stopped at the Hoop & Toy in Kensington for a relatively cheap but tasty steak/burger with a bottle of red ‘Cape Promise Pinotage’. With alcohol fueling our system we pleasantly stumbled around the Victoria and Albert museum, napping by the large middle Eastern carpets, and then later to the Natural History Museum — through Geology, past the birds and into the realm of the dinosaurs, before being ushered out at the close of play.
More tea breaks back at the Hoxton Hotel where we picked up our bags and aimlessly chatted as the time whisked away, soaking up the coolness of the vibe, shoes off and relaxed. Then home and an end to our wonderful weekend; looking forward to the next one.